Research for infection protection

Elements of basic hygiene

Hand hygiene

Hand hygiene is the key measure of basic hygiene. In addition to alcohol-based hand disinfection, the main infection protection measure, it comprises skin care, skin protection and skin cleansing. Regular and systematic skin care is essential for preventing infections, as even the smallest cracks and microtraumas lead to a burning sensation when using hand disinfectants and complicate their proper application.

5 moments for hand disinfection

  • Before patient contact
  • Before an aseptic task
  • After body fluid exposure risk
  • After patient contact
  • After contact with patient surroundings

When hands are visibly soiled, they should be washed before hygienic disinfection.

Protective gowns and plastic aprons

Protective gowns are used for situations with a high potential for direct contact with blood, secretion, or excretion, and, for patient safety reasons, are taken off after the nursing/medical activity and before treating another patient (hand disinfection afterwards).When removing the gown, it has to be made sure that skin and working clothes do not become contaminated. Plastic aprons are used instead of or together with protective gowns, when it has to be expected that the clothes are drenched.

Examination gloves

Single-use gloves are worn in case of risk of exposure to mucous membranes, non-intact or contaminated/colonised skin, blood, body fluids, secretion and excretion, or in case there is a potential risk of stab injury. When using the wrong technique for glove removal, the previously protected skin may come into contact with the contaminated glove exterior, or the hand may become contaminated.

Face masks and eye protection

Face masks (nose/mouth protection) should be put on when blood, bodily fluids, secretion or excretion may splash into the face, or to avoid an unintended contact between hands/gloves and face. For invasive surgery, e. g. operations, to protect patients against the transmission of pathogens, which can be transmitted orally by the staff.

Surface disinfection and cleaning

Possibly contaminated work spaces and surfaces near patients coming into frequent contact with hands and skin should be treated with surface disinfectant cleaners routinely. Surfaces contaminated by blood, body fluids, secretion and excretion require targeted disinfection.

Reprocessing of medical devices

Medical devices such as blood pressure cuffs, stethoscopes, inhalation devices, or thermometers need to be reprocessed after use or contamination respectively by using validated procedures and in accordance with the standard operating procedure.For this, the medical device manufacturer’s instructions on reprocessing should be followed.

Information on the main transmission paths of pathogens you will find in the glossary.